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Building collapse in Miami, structure had been sinking into the Earth since the 1990s

Building Collapse Miami
A view of a building is shown after a partial collapse, Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. A wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed with a roar in a town outside Miami early Thursday, trapping residents in rubble and twisted metal. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Three dead and 99 missing, that’s the current casualty count after the partial collapse of a condo building early Thursday morning in Surfside.

This morning searchers are digging and crawling through the rubble with dogs and sonar equipment, accessing the collapsed building from the parking garage below. Rescuers say they heard what sounds like banging but no voices.

So what caused the deadly building collapse? An FIU report says the high-rise condo was deemed unstable a year ago.

The Surfside condo had been sinking into the Earth as early as the 1990’s, researchers say.

Surfside condo was constructed in 1981, has been sinking at an alarming rate since the 1990’s.

According to a study by Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment.

Wdowinsjki saw the news of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside had collapsed, he instantly remembered if from the study he says.

“I looked at it this morning and said, ‘Oh my god.’ We did detect that,” he said.

The building was sinking at a rate of about 2 millimeters a year in the 1990s and could have slowed or accelerated in the time since, he said.

Even the level of sinking observed in the 1990s typically results in impacts to the buildings and their structure, Wdowinski says.

According to Surfside Town Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer, “This was not an act of God. This was not a natural disaster. Building don’t just fall.

Known water damages and cracks may have contributed to the breakdown of the buildings structure.

The county requires commercial and multifamily buildings to be recertified every 40 years, as the time of the building collapsing the recertification had not been completed.

In a 2015 lawsuit alleged building management failed to maintain and outside wall, resulting in water damages and cracks.

Building on reclaimed land, landfill or wetlands can compact over time, leading to shifts in the ground under the building potentially to the foundation, according to Matthew Levy a consulting engineer, professor at Columbia University.

A family reunification center has been set up for anyone looking for unaccounted for loved ones. The reunification hotline number is 305-614-1819.